Send in the Clowns

January 25, 2021
Martin Preib

Is Chicago's corrupt media ruling Mayor Lightfoot as it did Rahm Emanuel?

It was 2017 and Jenny Notz, the First Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, made a gloomy declaration to the Finance Committee of the Chicago City Council as a collection of so-called reporters waited anxiously in the gallery for the announcement.

To what was no doubt joyous news to the media apparatus that now rules Chicago with an iron fist, Notz announced to a collection of elected representatives in the city assembly that they should award some $30 million to four men because they were “wrongfully convicted” for the 1994 rape and murder of Nina Glover. Supporters of the four men, known as the Englewood Four, claimed that they had been coerced into confessing to the murder.

With Chicago facing claims of coerced confessions and DNA evidence that allegedly pointed to another suspect, Notz told Chicago aldermen the city could incur millions more in costs if the civil case proceeded to trial.

"If these cases go to trial, the plaintiffs will argue that their confessions were coerced and fabricated because the police took advantage of their youth. They were all between 15 and 18 at the time their statements were taken," Notz told aldermen.

On cue, the aldermen nodded their heads wistfully at the arguments from Notz, who claimed that new DNA tests returned from Glover suggested a serial killer was responsible for her death and compelling enough evidence to award the men the windfall settlement. Adding to the weight of the media narrative was the fact that outlets like the Chicago Tribune had been claiming similar allegations against the detectives who worked the case for decades, the trope of “pattern and practice” a relentless drumbeat in their otherwise laughable claims against the detectives.

Of the 50 aldermen in the city’s legislative chamber, only two lawmakers, Nicholas Sposato (38) and Anthony Napolitano (41), voted against the settlement. Both declared they thought the men were guilty.

Responding to Notz’s pleas, Alderman Sposato said:

“I know this would be a very difficult case to win. But I just can’t stand by and approve a $31 million settlement for four individuals who, I feel, are guilty.”

Seconding Sposato’s assertions, Alderman Anthony Napolitano, who has served as both a Chicago police officer and firefighter, was quoted by the Sun-Times:

“There’s just an overwhelming amount of evidence against the individuals in this settlement. And I feel that we’re opening a gateway for settlements like this in the future—over and over again.”

 

What the Englewood Four exoneration and settlement signified was, once again, not that innocent men had been released from prison and awarded a just compensation. Instead, it revealed, yet again, the sordid alliance of the media with the radical left, or, more specifically, the transformation of the media into the primary agent of the radical left, a transformation on full display not only in Chicago but throughout the entire country.

In Chicago, that transformation is most commonly observed in cases like the Englewood Four, in which reporters tell the story of the attorneys representing former convicts with a bias and one-sidedness never observed before in the American press. In the Englewood Four case, for example, the media did little to explain how it could be that the detectives, who were supposedly framing the four youths, could get one of the accused to admit the offenders had disposed of tools used in the murder of Glover in a nearby Chicago Park District lagoon. After the Chicago Police Marine Unit conducted a search of the area, officers discovered the tools used by the killers in the exact location described by one of the accused.

Did the detectives plant it in a staggeringly complex plan to frame youths the detectives did not even know? Was it just a coincidence that such implements were found right where the accused killer said they would be?

So when Notz sat in front of the Finance Committee of the Chicago City Council and exhorted aldermen to write a check for tens of millions of dollars to the four men, it meant then-mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the City Council would bow to media pressure in the case, not the evidence.

This money belongs to taxpayers. It could have been better used to rebuild the city’s infrastructure, pay off its debt, or finance the pension of police officers, but it was handed out like lottery payments to those once convicted in court, under the rules of evidence.

In fact, under the Emanuel regime, so vast was the industry of suing the police that it expanded into other revenue streams, even to those claims extolled by reporters who were the most nakedly biased in their attacks on the police. One was CBS newsreader Dave Savini.

During the dire reign of Emanuel, Savini began covering incidents in which police officers serving warrants came up empty or carried out mistaken search warrants. Never an exact science, the process of obtaining a warrant is a crucial law enforcement tactic in a city so subsumed by gang violence as Chicago. It is dangerous work and has numerous built-in safeguards to check the police in their attempts to serve a warrant. One is a signature of a judge.

During Emanuel’s tenure, Savini began running stories about warrants time and again. As he stirred up the sensationalism so endemic to his reporting, the Emanuel administration began dutifully writing the checks to the defendants and their attorneys, in the same way the media does for convicted offenders and their attorneys claiming false confessions.

Savini’s journalistic hocus pocus knew no bounds. In one instance, Savini successfully transformed a police officer who was dragged under a car by a driver during a traffic stop into the offender. Originally charged with attempted murder in the case, the driver was awarded $850,000 in a civil lawsuit claiming the misconduct was on the side of the officer in yet another example of Emanuel’s legal department cowering to the media mob.

With the election of Mayor Lightfoot, the transformation of the city into an ATM machine for the radical left and their law firms seemed to be coming to an end. With the appointment of a new head of the city’s legal department, Mark Flessner, city attorneys began contesting one lawsuit claiming police misconduct after another in federal courts, particularly a host of cases generated by Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, who released a slew of convicted killers to the drooling excitement of the Chicago media.  

Ever the killjoy, Flessner’s attorneys were ripping the police misconduct cases to shreds, demanding aides to Kim Foxx be deposed so that they could explain exactly what made the men they let out of prison innocent. For the first time, Flessner’s attorneys were pointing the finger at the media, arguing that a potentially sinister media pressure was the main leverage that pushed the cases forward and compelled elected officials to bolster exonerations. Accusations were made against prosecutors and against former governor Pat Quinn.

A sign of how menacing and dangerous these legal arguments were to the media status quo is illuminated in the glaring media silence that followed in their wake. As one case after another was eviscerated in the hollow halls of the federal building, a damning media silence was imposed upon the city, one that would make Mao Zedong proud.

If Chicago’s media or elected officials like Foxx truly believed that these exoneration cases were legitimate, wouldn’t both be screaming about the injustice of city attorneys deconstructing and rejecting their narratives? Wouldn’t column after column be written about them in the Tribune and Sun-Times? Wouldn’t Ben Bradly and WGN be attacking the city’s top lawyers?

As always, the truth in Chicago is expressed in its silence.

The courageous work of Flessner’s administration came to a screeching halt when Mayor Lightfoot threw him under the bus after yet another pathetic, error prone and largely uninvestigated story by Savini, that was then embraced and amplified by the rest of the sycophant media in Chicago.

Chicago police officers served a warrant on the wrong dwelling in which a woman was naked when the police burst in. Based on legitimate intelligence and signed by a judge, the video of the incident was released to Savini by the woman’s attorney in violation of a court order. Flessner, probably familiar now with the symbiotic relationship between media coverage and civil lawsuits, fought the release. The media mob attacked Flessner, and Mayor Lightfoot jumped in against her own corporation counsel.

In a story that ran in December, the Sun-Times quoted Ms. Lightfoot saying:

“Last week, Lightfoot said her voice was hoarse from having read the riot act to Flessner, whose office put Lightfoot in a politically untenable position by seeking to prevent CBS from airing the footage. Asked Thursday why she hadn’t yet fired Flessner, Lightfoot said she hadn’t ruled it out.”

Fire Flessner? Is the Sun-Times asking this question because Flessner fought the release of a video or because Flessner destroyed almost ten years of reporting by the hapless media outlet?

Flessner resigned shortly afterward. So much for all the great work Flessner did in reversing the sellout years of Rahm Emanuel and city lawyers who always capitulated. And it didn’t take much for Lightfoot to follow suit, just a one-sided, careless story by a one of the city’s biggest blowhard journalists.

In kicking Flessner to the curb, has Lightfoot now joined Emanuel in finally and fully giving the city over to the despicable media mob that acts in a such chillingly unified chorus? For the all the talk about diversity spewed by the city’s reporters, the media narratives are remarkably un-diverse. In fact, they are authoritarian in their party line obedience.

Will Chicago continue to be ruled by the likes of Dave Savini and his media cohorts? Or is the hope that for any justice, any principle, that emerged when Mayor Lightfoot installed Flessner as lead attorney now a pipe dream?

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